Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Review; Skaar Son of Hulk 7 - 17

Before you can begin reading Skaar Son of Hulk you have to be able to accept the somewhat challenging premise that the Hulk has a one year old son who is already an emotional and physical adolescent. You have to accept that that he has grown to this in a tiny space of time and is likely to stay there for the duration for reasons more to do with accommodating the story restrictions of an editorially driven, single line of superhero comics. You have to be able to accept all of this along with the stuff like preposterous feats of strength, planet eaters and controllable earthquakes. Once you do, it’s all quite engaging.

Greg Pak writes the first half of these issues which see Skaar encounter the Silver Surfer before being sent to Earth to meet his father for the first time. For me, Pak is the definitive Hulk voice at present, riding the waves created by intruders, mainly Jeff Loeb, who seem determined to dumb the whole thing down with their approach. At this time, Pak looks to be trying to reinterpret the broader Hulk world as a Sword and Sorcery saga although he ends his first story arc of these issues with the destruction of the planet Sakaar, where all of his ideas are based. As I’ve said before, I admire him for introducing new concepts and myths but, truthfully, I was somewhat delighted by the appearance of Marvel mainstays The Silver Surfer and, in the Planet Skaar story, Hulk and the Fantastic Four.

Pak’s stories spread over several issues benefit from being read in one go. He does deliver strong developments in a single issue but typically of modern Marvel comics, they’re constructed for collection in a graphic novel later on. Paul Jenkins, who replaces Pak as writer with issue thirteen where the comic is renamed just Son of Hulk, provides an experience that takes longer to read but delivers just as much plot or even a little less. Now Skaarless, Jenkins version follows ex-slave Hiro-Kala and a group of Sakaar refugees as they travel through space. Confusingly to me, Hiro-Kala is also another Son of Hulk. I’m not sure if this is biologically or spiritually (I think I might have lost track somewhere), but despite his small size, he has access to vast amounts of power and rage. In Jenkins’ story, Hiro-Kala leads an invasion of another planet where he brutalises the population and environment in an attempt to ultimately teach Galactus a lesson.

The problem with tales about relentless brutality and male posturing is it’s difficult for me to empathise with any of the characters. Pak is much better at engaging me in tales like this than Jenkins is with his one here. Pak manages to sell to me the idea that his son of Hulk is sympathetic despite his destructive actions. Jenkins’ son of Hulk seems ferrety and spoiled and in need of a smacked bottom and sending to his room.

Stats! These were part of an eBay win which valued each issue, including postage, at 64p each. Result!

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